Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Opus 125

With its humanitarian message: "All men will be brothers” from Schiller’s Ode to Joy, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, written between 1822 and 1824, is a work that is very frequently presented at public events such as state occasions or when the advent of a new year is celebrated. But behind the popular catchiness communicated by the simple, diatonic joy motive of the final movement, stands a highly complex art work, the structure of which came about as the result of a long struggle on Beethoven’s part. The Ninth Symphony was not created as a single monolith, but rather represents the combination of several sections: as far back as 1812 there were plans for a D minor symphony as well as a musical setting of Schiller’s ode. As of 1815, Beethoven contemplated a B minor symphony, and in 1817/1818 we find the first documentation of the composer’s idea of inserting a choral passage into a symphony. This insertion of the vocal element has an effect on the entire symphony: Beethoven finally solved the problem of combining the final vocal movement with the rest of the work through numerous references back to motives in the previous movements and a recitative that explicitly elucidates the significance of Schiller’s ode. The new element in this symphony, which had a major influence on the compositions of Wagner, Bruckner and Mahler, is less its expansion of symphonic dimensions as its idea of "variety in unity”, which manifests itself in the synthesis of everything that had gone before in the finale. In this way, Schiller’s words at the end of the poem: "Seid umschlungen, Millionen!” ("Be embraced, ye millions!”) serves as a symbol of the basic idea of this work in both technical and philosophical terms.